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Arancha González, Madeleine Albright and Mircea Geoana analyze the challenges of Inclusive Transatlantic Security in the COVID Era

Transatlantic Conference 2020

Arancha González, Spain's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Madeleine Albright, a former U.S. secretary of state ,and Mircea Geoana, NATO Deputy Secretary General, took part in the Transatlantic Conference 2020, moderated by Susana Malcorra, Dean of the IE School of Global and Public Affairs, and Nicholas Burns of the Harvard Kennedy School.

In an increasingly complex and tense world, restoring confidence in the transatlantic alliance is essential, and requires collaboration as well as frank and open discussion. This view was summarized by Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, at a conference on Thursday organized by IE School of Global and Public Affairs, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, and theFundación Rafael del Pino.

Trust can only be rebuilt if both sides have “an adult relationship” and are able to discuss problems and differences on issues such as democracy, human rights, nationalism, and then take concrete action, said Albright at the meeting, which was held under the title “Redefining Inclusive Transatlantic Security in the Covid Era.”

“It is much more difficult to regain confidence once it has been lost,” said Albright, stressing the importance of an open dialogue in regards to contentious issues such as the West’s relationship with China and Russia, as well as Turkey, NATO, and Palestine and Israel.

“We can’t allow ourselves to be afraid of restructuring the architecture of the liberal order.”

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

“We can’t allow ourselves to be afraid of restructuring the architecture of the liberal order,” she urged, pointing out that “a crisis is an opportunity and we must know how to take advantage of it.”

Arancha González, Spain’s Foreign Minister, opened the conference with a call to Europe and the United States to reduce tension and friction in the commercial, economic and investment spheres in order to revive the global economy.

Madeleine Albright | IE

People everywhere need the economy to recover and for that to happen, Europe and the United States must resolve their economic differences over key issues such as corporate tax and technology.

She called on politicians to meet the challenge by demonstrating that they are determined to restore confidence in the transatlantic relationship. To this end, she proposed renewing the relationship in three areas, starting with the economy to overcome the crisis, cooperation to resolve existing conflicts that are worsening, such as the war in Syria, and then rebuilding multilateralism to adapt it to today’s world, responding to global problems and people’s demands.

Gonzalez, who served as Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), noted that nations are more interdependent than ever, and much address problems such as climate change, socio-economic inequality and the technology gap jointly. In response, she called for a new social contract so that no one is left behind: “We need a contract with a transatlantic vocation so that Europe and America come closer to each other.”

Spain’s top diplomat also advocated greater investment in institutions. “Institutions are the sum of the investments that shareholders want to make. If you invest a lot, you get a lot out of it,” she said. “Today, protecting people means investing more in multilateral governance systems.”

For his part, Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, who moderated the meeting together with Susana Malcorra, Dean of the IE School of Global and Public Affairs, said that we have never lived through a time in which there have been so many differences on both sides of the Atlantic, but he stressed that “there is another America different from that of Donald Trump. Seventy-five percent of U.S. congressional representatives want a partnership with Europe, and most believe in a strong NATO,” he said.

Albright also expressed the hope that there would be a new administration in the United States that would understand the importance of these relationships. “It is no surprise to anyone that I support Joe Biden, who has a lot of experience with trans-Atlantic issues and is willing to take concrete action,” she said.

For Mircea Geoana, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General, the key to renewing relations between Europe and the United States lies in unity and the defense of common values: untilboth sides of the Atlantic reconnect with renewed purpose to build a global project, we will remain in crisis.

Geoana recalled that the transatlantic alliance is one of the pillars of global governance and stressed that NATO and the European Union cannot be separated because they are two sides of the same coin. Furthermore, he stressed that security is the prerequisite for development and peace and therefore is even more important at this time of transformation due to Covid-19 and called for investment in security, not only in quantity, but in quality.

The world is becoming more complex every day, all the experts at the conference agreed. At a time of so much uncertainty and tension, this dialogue served to convey that much-needed message of hope, said Susana Malcorra, former Chief of staff to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The key is that we are able to translate what institutions represent to ordinary citizens.”

Watch full virtual meeting here.

Transatlantic Conference 2020 from IE Communications on Vimeo.